Start Up

Behind the Scenes of the rumii.net Launch

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Orlando, Florida is a place of magic and mystery. It was certainly a magical week for Doghead Simulations.

The Doghead Simulations team gathered in Florida for a momentous week. We have been a company for approximately 78 weeks and were now preparing to open our very own office. For the past year and a half, we have worked remotely, from home or co-working spaces, across the globe. From Seattle to Orlando, to Sao Paolo, Brazil, and even New Zealand, we met and worked inside virtual reality.

Team members look at a model V8 Engine in rumii.

Team members look at a model V8 Engine in rumii.

For many of the Doghead team, it was their first time meeting each other outside of virtual reality. That didn’t seem to stop the instantaneous “click” the team members felt. We’ve seen each other’s avatars countless times. Voices, hand gestures, and head movements are natural in rumii. When we saw our human selves it was as if we were old comrades building the future of communication.

November 16, 2017, we formally announced our partnership with Full Sail University during our ribbon cutting. We revealed an office space on Full Sail’s campus. The Doghead Simulation’s logo shown brightly against the dark glass of the office windows. Blue and black striped sidewalk guides guests to our door. Once inside, visitors are welcomed by the rumii logo. A chalkboard wall displays Doghead Simulations expertly drawn by Full Sail artists (Scott H. and Traci B.)

No virtual reality office is complete without gear. Tables are pushed to the edges of the room leaving an open space in the middle for people to work and move in virtual reality. Two HTC Vive lighthouses sit in the corners. An Acer MR headset and controllers sit on a desk below a smart TV that displays what those in VR are experiencing.

The day of the ribbon cutting was filled with excitement. The weather in Florida was perfect. The sky was clear and the sun shone. Garry Jones, president, and co-founder of Full Sail University introduced the crowd to the unveiling of the rumii office on the Full Sail University Campus. He then introduced the four co-founders: Mat Chacon, Lily Snyder, Elbert Perez, and Chance Glasco.

Each co-founder expressed their thanks to Full Sail for the meaningful partnership with Doghead Simulations, and what the new office along with the launch of rumii.net meant for both organizations.

Mat Chacon, CEO of Doghead Simulations, praised the Doghead Simulations team and thanked Full Sail saying, “All of us here at Doghead Simulations are really excited to be part of the Full Sail Family. The opening of the U.S. Eastern Headquarters in Orlando, Florida will not only allow us to grow across the U.S., but will be a launching pad for the rest of the world.”

The four co-founders along with Garry Jones, Isis Jones, CIO at Full Sail University, and the mayor of Winter Park, FL, Steve Leary, cut the ribbon to the cheer from the crowd.

For the Doghead Team, the most exciting part was giving Full Sail students and staff a chance to try rumii (available at rumii.net) first hand. Students lined down the sidewalk to enter the virtual world of collaboration. Doghead team members Will Fitzgerald and Justin Gallo virtually walked students and staff through the features in rumii. Amanda Sweaton ran the demos from the office. The biggest impact rumii had on ribbon cutting guests was how real it felt to talk to and interact with others inside rumii’s virtual world. Some said they were skeptics of VR until they saw rumii avatars turn their heads, blink, and talk with opening and closing of the avatar’s mouth. Hand gestures and movements are so natural, people forget they are in virtual reality.

We are extremely proud of the hard work and dedication our team has shown to each other and the company in the past year and a half. We strongly believe that we are changing the world for the better by improving the way people collaborate.

The Doghead Simulations team. Back row, left to right: Tony Dodge, Amber Osborne, Rusty Sempsrott, Will Fitzgerald, Chance Glasco, James Wagar. Front row, left to right: Justin Gallo, Amanda Sanchez, Mat Chacon, Lily Snyder, Elbert Perez, Amanda Sweaton. Not shown: Brian Traficante and Diego Maia.

The Doghead Simulations team. Back row, left to right: Tony Dodge, Amber Osborne, Rusty Sempsrott, Will Fitzgerald, Chance Glasco, James Wagar. Front row, left to right: Justin Gallo, Amanda Sanchez, Mat Chacon, Lily Snyder, Elbert Perez, Amanda Sweaton. Not shown: Brian Traficante and Diego Maia.

Full Sail University’s partnership with our company shows the value of virtual reality technology and our software for education and the enterprise. Thank you Full Sail for your unwavering support in our team and our mission!

Announcing our partnership with Full Sail, opening our U.S. Eastern Headquarters, and launching rumii.net are huge steps for our startup. We have come a long way from pitching our prototype of rumii in Beijing, China over a year ago.

However, we are only just getting started. This ribbon cutting has only motivated us to push harder. We can’t wait to show you what we come up with next.

Get rumii today at rumii.net!

Share your rumii experience with us on Twitter @dogheadsims or Instagram @dogheadsimulations.

 

How to Close the Investment Gap

“We should close funding by November.” That’s what we thought when we started down our funding journey in July last year.

At that time virtual reality was expected to be an $80 billion dollar industry by 2020. It’s now expected to be a $120 billion - $162 billion industry by 2020. That’s double market size! The numbers prove it. Virtual reality had a record year of $2.3 billion investment in 2016.

While we saw lots of investment activity in the space, we did notice some VR/AR startups feel an investment slowdown in the beginning of 2017. The investment market has cooled some since investors have been burned by virtual reality startup companies who haven’t delivered yet. They got in a little too soon, two to three years ago when the technology wasn’t quite ready. Unfortunately, now that the technology is ready, the purse strings have tightened up.

To compensate for this, VR/AR startups are finding that they are having to stay bootstrapped longer than they thought. Some are able to go to friends and family for initial investment. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is a good reminder that closing funding rounds take time.

Our advice? Closing funding is a marathon, not a sprint.

1.      Start building relationships with venture capitalists (VCs) and investors now, before getting to the point of asking for money. VCs are known to invest in the people and and team first, before the product. If they like you as a person they are more likely to invest in you when it comes time to ask for funding.

2.      Find a financial advisor or mentor to help manage your expectations and guide you through the funding process. There are many steps to closing funding, it’s not as cut and dry as writing a check. After agreeing to terms, there are transaction documents to be be reviewed, and lawyers on both side who want to make sure everything is in order.

3.      Don’t jump on the first offer you get. Remember, being invested is a two way street. Make sure you like the investor and can work with them as much as they want to put money into you. Seek out the “smart” money.

4.      Don’t quit your day job. Even if you start having serious talks with an investor it can take 7 - 14 months to close a funding round. It can take even longer if you haven’t started talking with investors yet. See point 1 above.

5.      Be patient, keep pitching, and network at events. Having your company’s face out in front of people will keep you first of mind when they’re thinking of who to invest in. Word spreads quickly. Even if you don’t talk to an interested VC, they might mention your company to someone who is.

 

 

Seattle Startup Week

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We are excited to announce that we have been invited to Pitch at IBM SmartCamp at the Galnvanize workspace in downtown Seattle and will also be demonstrating our VR Collaboration software, rumii, at PlutoVR as part of Seattle Startup Week November 17, 2016! Pitching our company never gets old; we always welcome the chance to share our vision for the future of work and how it allows for real collaboration between team members through the power of virtual reality.

Talking about our company, Doghead Simulations, has become second nature to us since we’ve been giving the pitch practically non-stop since VRVCA Beijing. It never gets boring or old to explain that companies spend $1 trillion annually on travelling their teams around the world. The looks on the investors faces are always priceless when hearing that.

We know that our virtual reality software is solving real world problems that haven’t been faced by the workforce before. Factors like globalization, outsourcing, and progressive culture shifts such as “Future of Work” are generating distributed team members all over the world and creating interactions between people who go whole projects without ever meeting each other in person. In fact, 45% of IT teams work remotely around the globe, not including other industries.

While it is awesome that we have the technology to communicate and work with people across the country and across continents, it simply isn’t keeping up with the demand that humans have for instant, interactive, and vibrant collaboration. That is why virtual reality is catching on so quickly and why we have harnessed its capabilities for true distributed team collaboration.

Virtual reality is the tool, but how it is used for business is they key. Our company is made up of team members who not only face the challenges of working remotely, but they are industry leaders who understand how virtual reality works and the hardware that displays those environments work. We have suffered with our customers using Agile and Scrum remotely, a methodology and framework that was developed to be used in a co-located environment. However, remote teams still use this methodology because it has been proven to be the most effective in iterative, timely development of products, software, and process - so much so that 89% of businesses use Agile project management methodology to build products or improve customer satisfaction.

We invite the challenge. We crave the opportunity. We hope to see you at one of the events this week!

Demoing rumii at VRVCA, Beijing.

Demoing rumii at VRVCA, Beijing.

Pitching a Start-Up 102

The following is the story of how we pitched our start-up to a group of American Venture Capitalists at the IMMERSE Summit in Seattle, WA 2016. You can read here our account of pitching to a group of Asian investors from our VRVCA pitch in Beijing last August. 

We arrived at the Meydenbauer Center at 9am and the lobby was already packed with conference attendees. We made our way into the exhibit room to boot up the HTC Vives and computers. Mat and Lily went to hear the opening address and Keynote speaker. We learned that VR is in between a 1980s cellphone and today’s smartphone but obviously has a ways to go. Halfway through the keynote speech Mat and Lily left with James to practice the pitch for that afternoon’s Shark Tank. After making some final adjustments it was time to move back to the exhibit hall.

When they got down to the hall it was flowing with everyone from the lobby. The booth was already buzzing with people who wanted to experience the Doghead Simulations demo. Attendees watched a looped video on display of our team using rumii (our VR collaboration product) as we gave demos with two HTC Vives behind the booth table. We got a lot of comments like, "you mean I don't have to travel again?" and "I can use this for work today!". Interestingly a lot of educators and architects who were interested in how to use VR stopped by our demo. We had some great conversation on how best to use virtual reality for schools and showing buildings.

The day flew by and before we knew it was time for the official pitch run through. Elbert manned the booth so that Lily and Mat could go to the official practice pitch with the other Shark Tank teams. 30 startups applied for the Immerse Shark Tank this year but only five were accepted. Doghead was one of those five.

This pitch was completely different from VRVCA in Beijing. This pitch session was in a large event room with a stage and two large screens to display the presentations. The VCs (otherwise known as “the Sharks”) sat on the stage for the startups to present to them while in front of an audience of 500 attendees. On top of that, the Shark Tank session was recorded by professional camera men. Teams were given five minutes to pitch and had five minutes to answer questions from the Sharks, leaving enough time for about one question per VC. Doghead Simulations was slated to go up second. Todd Hooper announced our team and we walked up on the stage. Our pitch went off without a hitch.

CognitiveVR was selected as the winner and they had a solid product. Although we were disappointed to not have won the Shark Tank we were able to take the advice from the Sharks to make our pitch stronger and even more compelling. We also received positive feedback from attendees in the audience.

It was interesting to see the difference pitching to the Seattle VCs vs. the VCs in Beijing. The VCs in Beijing had more questions regarding the features we could implement while the Sharks at Immerse thought our product should be more focused on a specific pain point. We also faced some stiffer competition at Immerse since it was more of a business focused event where VRVCA Beijing was open to a variety of VR applications.

We want to thank Bellevue for hosting us in the startup arena. Also, many thanks to Todd Hooper, Gregory Paley, and Gail Rice too. It was great event! Even though we didn't win the Shark Tank we still felt like we did, because we had the opportunity to talk to many potential investors on the trade show floor as well as the Sharks on stage. It was a great experience to practice and refine our pitch, which only makes us more confident in our product. We enjoyed seeing the other VR startups’ ideas and demos because they show the real growth for the technology and prove our numbers for the VR market are a reality.

In Conclusion:

  • Don't assume that a successful pitch for one group will be successful for a different one.
  • Your pitch deck can morph and change over time.
  • Be open to feedback about your pitch even if it hurts.
  • At the end of the day it is your pitch and your company, you have to make the calls that make the most sense to you.

 

Thank You VRVCA!

Dear Alvin, Kevin, Michael, Demi, and Peggy,

Thank you for such a wonderful experience at the inaugural VRVCA event. It was an amazing experience for us as a team and as a company. Thank you for your insight, honest feedback, and encouragement to engage with the other companies at the event. We are honored to have been a part of such a great experience.

Lily Michael Mat and Chance at VRVCA

                        

Dear VRVCA members,

Thank you for giving your time to attend VRVCA and listen to our pitch! You were a wonderful audience and we enjoyed presenting to you. Thank you for experiencing our product demo and asking us great questions about our business and software. We hope you enjoyed the experience as much as we did.

We shared photos, a podcast, and a few magical moments from the event on our blog and on Facebook - we hope you’ll follow our journey. We are excited about the possibilities that await us next!

 

With sincere thanks and appreciation,


The Doghead Simulations Team